Remodel have waited two months for this review of their thirty-minute slot on the new band night on a balmy Monday evening at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane. Brick Lane however, has waited ten years for me to repay it a visit, so what is a mere two months? Then in 1998, Brick Lane consisted of numerous Indian restaurants with dark windows, cheap corner cafes selling Indian snacks, a dinghy pub at the south end, crumbling cockroach infested slummy flats, prostitutes selling their wares and nary a white face seen outside the restaurants. Now, as we approached the Truman brewery, the sudden emergence in the area of what has been described as the Global Scenester was astounding. It was uber-cool and as The Independent recently wrote about Brick Lane… "…there's a bit of Eurotrash here, some British punk there, a swatch of Asian minimalism, and a sizeable off-cut of blue-collar chic from both sides of the Atlantic… "* … all mixed up with 70s skinny jean chic. As a London cyclist I particularly noticed the swarm of push bikes - including the currently uber-fashionable single speed / fixed wheel - dotting the pavements. And yes, everyone seemed so skinny. The Restaurants were airy and shiny and the shops sold trendy Global Scenester Gear. However, I'm sure the cockroaches are still scuttling around, albeit wearing minimalist Japanese vests. What does all this have to do with Remodel and the two-month delay? In my mind the music, the people and London itself cannot be separated and in a no doubt over-analytical attempt to over-contextualise, I mused for a couple of months on the whole scene.
Remodel were the apposite band for this scenario, camouflaged in perfectly with the crowds at the tables outside the venue. The 7pm first-on slot is never an easy one in which to play and the crowd was predictably but still disappointingly sparse for a hard-working outfit. The four piece approached their short, jagged, word rich songs with passion, determination and professionalism, an admirable attitude of musical mind. At one point, the singer asked the bassist to change something technical. "Yes," my friend next to me said (who happened to have a music degree and a band member herself and so who knew far more about these things than me), "I agree". So, professional to the last then, despite the scarce crowd.
The rolling back-drop of Hindu (or Mughal?) paintings provided by the venue - not the Kama Sutra I noticed with a bit of disappointment - produced a dramatically albeit unintentional cinematic counterpoint to the sharp mod image of the band itself. Yes, they would have fitted in perfectly with the sixties Mods. Rockers they certainly are not.
The Band can pride themselves on their lyrical ability and certainly citing Oscar Wilde as an influence is a kitemark of cultural and literary quality. British Racing Green is an inspired title for a song - knowingly parochial, fast and yet traditional. Any song with that title is a good 'un and Leigh Swinn's voice sounded like a less abrasive Paul Weller from his In The City heydays. The lack of control that the band had over their sound system meant that their lyrics were at times inaudible to the detriment of the audience's appreciation. Revisiting their songs on Myspace, An Obscure Object Called Desire interjected a flowing melody into their jagged three-minute song repertoire. Afterwards we waited to see if the second band on would be any good. When we saw the singer attired as Captain Jack Sparrow, we decided to call it a night. The contrast could not have been greater.
Would I watch Remodel again? Certainly, if they have the Kama Sutra rolling as a backdrop and avoid the fashion faux-pas of dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow. The Brick Lane International Fashionistas on their single-speeds/fixed wheels may be here-today-gone-tomorrow but the lyrics and endeavour of Remodel's members should ensure that they will keep on ploughing the musical path. 7/10